Fraud watch alert: Be on the lookout after major storms and weather [Infographic]
When a major storm or severe weather event moves through a region and causes damage, homeowners are understandably motivated to find a contractor who can make repairs as soon as possible. No one wants to wait any longer than necessary if their roof or siding is damaged.
But homeowners should beware that prioritizing speed by hiring a contractor who knocks on the door before they’ve had a chance to check references or talk with their insurance company can be an invitation for fraud.
While most contractors are honest, contractor fraud is a real problem and often follows major weather events like hailstorms, windstorms and hurricanes.
It’s common for customers to inform Nationwide of contractors who knocked on their doors, promising a quick repair after a hailstorm or windstorm. Homeowners think this is the answer to their prayers, but then the contractor suddenly uses high-pressure tactics, asks for cash down payments or tells them they need to sign a Power of Attorney so they can negotiate with the insurance company. These are all red flags.
If a homeowner finds themselves in this situation, here are some steps they can take to protect themselves:
- Contact your insurance company as soon as damage is suspected
Insurance companies can often assist in finding contractors or point homeowners in the direction of a reputable source of contractors
- Use only licensed and insured contractors
Make sure your contractors can provide state and local business licenses and proof of insurance before signing any agreements. It’s also good practice to ask for and check the contractor’s references.
- Compare multiple written quotes before choosing a contractor
To ensure you receive competitive pricing and can make informed decisions, homeowners should collect and compare at least three estimates before selecting a contractor to do the work.
- Pay close attention to contracts
Attention to detail when reviewing contracts is crucial to ensure clear expectations, aligned construction schedules, and billing agreements. Never sign a contract with blank spaces or one that’s otherwise incomplete.
For more advice, follow tips from our infographic below, After the storm: Ways to avoid fraud.